2.5 days in Austin with my son to experience BBQ! What tips can you offer first timers?

Any up to date recs for BBQ and tacos and other Austin specialties in the downtown area. Good bars too. I’ll be there for 2 days in late Feb, staying downtown near 7th St and doing work downtown during the day (so need good breakfast tacos to get the day rolling.

This might sound silly but can u hire someone off craigslist to wait in line for you? Do they allow swapping people for spot?
And when one says line is long at Franklin, what is long? 3 hrs? 6 hrs?
If u go at 9am, can U get in by lunch (noon)?

Glad to see this thread resurrected.
I am also going in February, also with my son (he asked to do the trip for his 18th bday- I raised him right!)

Mark - I have been reading a good bit about how to approach. Others here have more experience, but form what I’ve read and seen on YouTube: The line for Franklins starts most mornings at sunrise with doors opening at 11. So 5-6hours wait is not out of the question if you want to be sure to be in for the first wave. Our plan for our first day is pre-order LA Barbecue and hit there around 11 and then stop by Franklin’s around 12 and try to get in before they run out (apparently, this works, moreso on weejdays)
Also hitting Kerlin’s and Mickelthwaite. And tacos!
And a day out around Lockhart for Kreuz, etc
Can’t wait!

I was recently in Austin for a bachelor party where the groom-to-be was a BBQ connoisseur who planned the whole itinerary around eating. Over the course of 3 days, we ate at: La Barbecue; Kreuz; Smitty’s; Central Market; Snow’s; Louie Mueller and Franklin.

We preordered at Franklin so we didn’t have to deal with a large line. It was our last stop of the trip and despite all the hype – and excellent BBQ we had already sampled – I have to admit it was hands-down the best. Everything, from the brisket to the ribs to the turkey and sausage, was excellent to world-class.

How long I would wait in line for Franklin is another story, though…I may just drive the 40 minutes to Louie Mueller instead…

My unsolicited ranking:

  1. Franklin - the best brisket I’ve ever had and damn good everything else
  2. Louie Mueller - among the best briskets I’ve ever had; possibly the best beef rib I’ve ever had; excellent sausages
  3. Snow’s - pork shoulder steak is sublime. Turkey was dry. Everything else was just very good. Free beer (well, you should leave a buck or two per can) in a self-serve cooler while you wait!
  4. Central Market - very good brisket and sausages. Banana pudding a big hit in the group, though I hate bananas so I can’t comment.
  5. Kreuz - a solid B on everything.
  6. Smitty’s - such a cool place, such terrible BBQ. Awfully dry brisket, uninspiring ribs. Smoked prime rib was merely good.
    DNF - La Barbecue. Ate as a pre-dinner snack. Only had 1/2 pound of brisket as they were otherwise sold out. The fatty brisket was very flavourful but a little oversmoked. (I’ll give it a pass since it was clearly the dregs of the brisket at that point.) Lean brisket was excellent. Spicy pickles were addicting.

I haven’t been to Austin in forever, but Uchi was delicious and if you need a break from bbq I’d reco going there.

Thanks, Brandon- Great info!

Uchi, and it’s sister Uchiko, are still great ! If you can’t decide between Uchi and Franklin’s, go to Loro, https://loroaustin.com/

It’s a collaboration between Chef Tyson Cole of Uchi and Chef Aaron Franklin of Franklin’s. It’s not traditional central TX BBQ, but the 2 chefs have created some amazing dishes in an Asian smokehouse concept.

I’ll admit that I have limited experience in Austin, but I’m more than a little surprised not to see Terry Black’s BBQ mentioned here yet. I’ve had several local bbq nuts make the recommendation of Black’s over Franklin’s and the Brisket that I had there 2 years ago was excellent. The line was about a 20-30 minute wait versus what looked like a ~2-ish hour wait at Franklin’s.

So for the locals posting here, does Black’s really not measure up to the other establishments mentioned here, or has it been an oversight?

I’ve never been. Perhaps I should go.

Another under-the-radar place is Micklethwait Craft Meats. It’s not quite La BBQ/Franklin/Louie Mueller quality, but it’s really not far off at all, and the lines are usually pretty short and the sides quite good. It’s close to downtown in a charming old-school little trailer.

Valentina’s and Stiles Switch should be included in any Austin BBQ discussion.